PhD student, Christian Medical College, Vellore


How do young infants from semi-urban settlements of Vellore have high blood lead levels?

Objective: To estimate Blood Lead Levels (BLL) in young infants, and if elevated, to determine whether the levels were attributed to by environmental or maternal exposure. Methods: A cohort study that followed up 21 mother-infant pairs, from the third trimester of pregnancy through delivery to the sixth week of life of the infant. Results: Elevated BLLs were observed in 16 (76.2%) cord blood samples (5.5 - 9 µg/dL) of 19 (90.5%) mothers (5.6 - 14.7 µg/dL) with elevated BLLs. At 6 weeks of age, elevated BLLs persisted in only 5 (19.1%) infants (6.2 - 7.9 µg/dL). Conclusions: Elevated BLLs in very young infants are a result of trans-placental transfer from mothers. High levels in older infants and pre-school children are probably a result of direct environmental exposure to lead.